Cherish Perrywinkle: How a little girl was abducted & murdered in mere minutes (VIDEO)
A registered sex offender has been charged with the murder and kidnapping of an 8-year-old girl who disappeared from Walmart.
56-year-old Donald James Smith is accused of abducting Cherish Lilly Perrywinkle from a Walmart in Jacksonville, Florida on Friday night. The girl's body was found the next morning in a wooded area near a church.
It's a truly horrific case with even more disturbing details…
Apparently, Perrywinkle's mother, Rayne, was shopping at the Dollar General with Cherish and her two younger children when Smith approached them. Rayne had just been telling her daughter she couldn't afford a new dress for her, which the young girl wanted for an upcoming visit with her father. That's when Smith reportedly offered to help.
He claimed his wife had a Walmart gift card that the mom could use to buy food and clothing and even drove the entire family to the store in his van. Perrywinkle's mom has since admitted she felt something was "creepy" about Smith while riding in the van and that he started following the family around while they were shopping. Huh?! Why in the world would this woman ever put herself and her kids in danger by allowing some total stranger to drive them around? And why didn't she report him after she started to get suspicious?
At one point, the mother told police Smith said he was going to McDonald's. She reportedly did not realize that her daughter was going with him. At around 11 p.m., she called police to report that Perrywinkle was missing. Cops pulled over Smith's van Saturday morning, hours before locating the girl's body.
Smith was convicted of attempted kidnapping in 2003 and attempted child abuse in 2012. He was released from jail less than a month before he allegedly kidnapped Perrywinkle. He is now being held without bail, but has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
I have no idea what could've possibly possessed the mom to think it was safe to accept this man's help. Maybe she was desperate or just wanted to believe that he really was that kind. It's impossible to know. Whatever the case, I wish she had taken more caution. I mean, how was 8-year-old Perrywinkle supposed to know not to trust this man when her own mom was the one who had let him into their lives?
The whole thing is just heartbreaking. Smith was obviously an incredibly dangerous man that probably shouldn't have been let out of jail in the first place. I only hope that now he FINALLY gets the punishment he deserves and is put behind bars for the rest of his life. In the meantime, my heart goes out to Perrywinkle's family.
Image via Florida Department of Law Enforcement